Playing D&D with the Kids

Daughter chasing down the goblin!

Though I’ve wanted to introduce my kids to Dungeons and Dragons for a long time things just never worked out for it until this weekend.  With little planning or fanfare the kids and I sat down at the table and tossed some dice across the tabletop.

Because of the quick decision to run the game, I didn’t have very much prep time, so I grabbed the 4E Starter Set Box and skimmed through the included adventure. While I did try to find printable versions online, or copies built into the DDI Character Builder, but had no luck, so I just cut the pre-gens from the book and allowed the kids to pick their favorite.

My son chose the dragonborn paladin, and while he didn’t have much of an idea what a paladin was, he did like the idea of being dragonlike. In fact, his first thought when asked to come to the aid of the town, he initially didn’t want to do it, and then asked what was in it for him.

My daughter chose the halfling rogue, and named her Jeanette. She was actually more paladinlike, when they were offered the chance to go after the goblins to protect the town, she agreed without hesitation, even offering a salute!

I told the kids their characters were best friends, and came from the village of Harken where the adventure/delve was set. I wanted to give them a reason to look after each other, and to take up the initial adventure without too much prodding. Not unexpectedly, when Old Kellar approaches them, my daughter takes a moment to interact with him, and my son, though eager to fight something, was less enthused about going along with the request, though at my daughter’s prodding agreed to go along. And though I mentioned there would be a reward I never had to come out and state the amount or negotiate the exact payment.

Because there were only two members in the party, I probably should have eliminated one or two opponents from the first encounter, but I didn’t, and that was a mistake. Some lucky die rolls early meant the kids were in trouble. I tried to ease up by having one of the goblins run away when it was below 10 hit points. Unfortunately, the goblin previously wounded my daughter’s character, and so my daughter wouldn’t just let the goblin run away, but instead chased after the creature.

My son’s paladin was dropped to -5 hit points, and my daughter’s character was far away, and getting low on hit points as well, so things weren’t looking good. While I never fudged any dice rolls, I did bend the rules slightly, allowing my son to stabalize himself when he made his successful death save, and then to use a healing surge during the next round to bring himself up from 0 points. I also had the goblin who dropped him head after my daughter’s PC, knowing her chase had taken her far enough away she’d have a few rounds to finish off the goblin she was already fighting.

In the end, both PCs survived and defeated the goblins, though they used up most of their daily abilities as well as their encounter abilities, so they wisely decided to head back to the village to rest.

They would probably have handled the encounter better if I’d put them against 3 goblins instead of 5, and I’ll probably take some time to scale down later encounters slightly, but overall the kids had a great time. In fact, though we did more hacking and slashing than role-playing, my daughter said she felt like she was in the story and both kids are looking forward to play again.

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